Picking up where we left off last week, I decided to run the "Devil's Night" adventure, but I scrubbed the "Devil's Night" references, since we were pretty solidly established as being in July, 1876 (It's been a few weeks since the Independence Day dime novel and all).
We picked up almost immediately after the close of "Night Train", with Deputy Parrish dead and Tontchay badly wounded. Lana quickly moved to provide him aid, but failed...so Jim Travis, somewhat surprisingly, tried to help him out with some success. (He managed to drop Tontchay from 3 wounds to 2.)
Travis and Lana each discretely reported back to their superiors, with Travis receiving word that he needed to check on a disturbance in Witchita, KS...but Lana not receiving anything back from her superiors. Travis told Tontchay he was heading to Witchita and the Deputy decided to go with him...Lana decided to tag along because she's becoming fond of Tontchay.
(Travis also played the Enemy Adventure Deck card at this point, setting himself up for some kind of rival later on, but getting him another card to work with.)
As the posse was riding along, Travis and Lana caught wind of something moving in the prairie...when they were attacked by fist-sized Prairie Ticks! Four of the little buggers attacked them, with one scurrying down the gullet of Travis' horse and another latching onto his mouth! Tontchay lined up his shot...and blew the tick apart on Travis' face! Lana managed to stab down at another tick and killed it, while Tontchay blasted the remaining exposed tick. The posse all looked nervous at Travis' horse, which he fought to get under control.
Later, as they were riding on, the horse clearly seemed to wear down and Tontchay saw movement in its belly. Travis dismounted, sighed, and shot the horse in the head. He and Tontchay immediately went to work setting a fire to cook the horse, in hopes of preventing the tick (or more ticks, as Lana feared) escaping the horse.
(Lana's player was REALLY creeped out by the Prairie Ticks, especially the one exploding on Travis' face, and was absolutely convinced that it had began replicating inside of the horse and another slew of ticks were coming.)
The next morning Travis, being a douche, stole Tontchay's horse as they rode out, leaving Tontchay on foot, walking along injured, next to Travis and Lana. As they entered a small settlement outside of Witchita, the town Doc told them he had three boys in comas here, and he asked them if they could maybe investigate. Travis agreed on the condition that the Doc take a look at Tontchay. Doc felt compelled to give Tontchay his cross, which he had taken from a departed friend. Tontchay seemed nervous at this, but remember Marshal Kidd's faith, agreed.
(The upside of having two of the posse members clearly displaying badges.)
After hearing that they were found unconscious and cold by the Hanging Tree, Lana immediately set out to investigate the boys while Tontchay and Travis set course for the Hanging Tree.
Lana went to see the first boy, "Little" Jimmy Peck, and spoke with his daddy, "Big" Jim Peck, who stood nearly 7 foot tall. Lana became convinced that the boy was a vampire of some sort, and asked Big Jim if they'd had any vampires around. Jim scoffed and said that his boy had clearly been cursed by a witch that Big Jim used to date. Lana said she might come back by, and Big Jim said he would be glad to have her come back. (Wink, wink.)
Tontchay and Travis went to the Hanging Tree and were unsettled by the complete, eerie silence at the tree. Travis investigated the markings on the tree to determine that it looked like it had maybe been used as target practice for knife throwers, while Tontchay found wagon tracks and hoof prints, as well as the impressions made by the boys when they hit the ground.
As Tontchay and Travis headed back to the settlement, they spotted a fancy, red wagon by the pond. As they approached it, they noted that it had "Professor Mathias' Old Time Elixers" painted on the side...and so they moved closer. Travis poked his head in to see the good Professor digging around in the wagon and spooked him. They asked the Professor if he had seen or heard anything from the night before, but he implied that he had been heavily inebriated. He did offer his miracle elixer to cure the boys, but was charing $50 for it. Noting Tontchay's injuries, he offered him a potion to heal him right up, for only $5, but when the guys suspected he was up to no good, they threatened him into backing down. (To save face, he just said that sometimes Indians and his potions don't agree). After coercion from Travis and Tontchay, he decided to head on for Witchita, but Travis strongly suggested that he should stay there until the posse left town, and they would accompany him.
(I still have no idea what game they are playing with "recruiting" Professor Mathias.)
Lana had little extra luck investigating the two other boys, though both of their families were convinced there was a rational explanation, but one of them thought Professor Mathias might have a cure.
Lana bumped into Tontchay, Travis and Mathias, who offered to sell her the cure for the boys for $100. The Posse headed into the Dead Horse Road House (noticing the irony after the events of last evening) and decided to partake of food and drink. Travis lost his butt playing Faro with a junk trader in town, but the trader did note that there was a mansion in the woods near an old Black River junkyard. The posse pressed the bartender on the matter, and he told them that a fella from Back East lived there, but he didn't know much else. He redirected them to Doc, who should know more. The gambler told Travis to pay up, but Travis threw the weight of his badge around to back him off.
Lana and Tontchay went to talk to the Doc, while Travis headed straight for the house in the woods.
Lana and Tontchay discovered that the house used to belong to a Whateley (Shudder), but that Herbert Langston from Back East had taken it over, bringing an invention with him and his daughter. However, his daughter had left about a year ago and Langston had gone into seclusion.
Travis examined the house and found it locked, so he busted in the back door. Looking around the house, he found that it only parts of it had been lived in, and he found a room that seemed like it had belonged to a girl, and a master bedroom that had personal effects belonging to Herbert Langston, including a patent on a clockwork man! Travis also found a series of child's drawings and a lock of hair. Pretty much running out of useful stuff, he prepared to leave the house when he saw movement down the hill from the house, at a junkyard.
As he headed to the junkyard, a coach came rolling up, as Professor Mathias brought him Lana and Tontchay (at Tontchay's request/demand). The three posse members headed into the junkyard. There, they spotted a large, hulking, mechanical man! Travis yelled out that he was a Texas Ranger and told it to halt, but it instead turned and charged him, smacking the Ranger, but the burly Travis held firm. However, the posse saw a body slumped in a chair, and Lana bolted to it, her curiosity getting the better of her. Tontchay rotated back and used his wolf spirit's aid to assist him as he opened fire on the mechanical man, while Travis (aided by the Payback adventure card) unloaded with both pistols in hopes of stopping it. Lana found a crushed man and pried a book out of his hands, which enraged the mechanical man! As the mechanical man charged at Lana, it left itself open to Travis (who had already damaged it), and Travis managed to gun it down! (Travis was running off a Joker and the Payback card, which essentially give him +4 on his attacks and +4 to his damage, allowing him to get past the armor of the clockwork man pretty easily).
As the clockwork man dropped to its knees in front of Lana, it pushed her aside and laid its head on its "father's" lap, "dying" with him.
Lana discovered that the book was a German grimoire designed to summon an entity called The Black Coachman, who takes the souls of those it encounters. Lana figured out right away that this is what happened to the boys. It also had instructions on how to stop the Coachman...and so the posse gathered up the necessary ingredients to make the Coachman whole and summon it to them!
Once they had done their work and got their ingredients in place, they went to the junkyard and Lana began casting the spell! Travis stood in the middle of the junkyard and began to turn in a circle, listening for the Black Coachman. Tontchay mounted a junkpile and prepared his Spencer.
They heard hooves.
They heard the wagon wheels bounce on the ground.
Tontchay saw fiery lights flickering in the distance.
Hellhounds began to bay in the night!
The Black Coachman erupted into the junkyard, pulled by nightmarish black horses and surrounded by hellhounds! Travis yelled for the Coachman to "come and get me!" as Lana completed the ritual and made it whole...and Tontchay opened fire, exploding the Coachman's head!!
(Tontchay used an Adventure Deck card to double his damage, and the Coachman was incapable of Soaking the damage done by the attack.)
The fiery ground opened up and claws pulled the Coachman screaming back to Hell! Three ethereal forms escaped the coach and the hounds followed the Coachman into Hell before the ground closed up. Travis told Tontchay that they were even now (for...something...Travis is kind of arrogant).
Returning to town proper, the posse found out that the boys had recovered, and now Little Jimmy was willing to talk, telling them about how he and his cronies had vandalized Langston's machine when a Dixie Rails rep was supposed to arrive, and basically ruined his life and opportunity. From there, Lana pieced together that he had come into possession of the grimoire and used it to summon the Black Coachman to get revenge.
Notes: This was a free Deadlands adventure released for Halloween...last year? I think. It was great. It was also designed to use the Horror Companion, which was already my favorite companion before I used it in play, and I dig it even more now. The posse is gelling nicely, with Travis' player playing an antagonistic jerk, but doing it in such a way that it's not disrupting the forward progress of the group. The Adventure Deck came up big time again (and I am totally okay with it, as are the players). I am absolutely at a loss as to why they recruited Professor Mathias, though...but whatever...we'll roll with it!
No game next week for sure, as I'm in Tulsa for a convention, and we may be down two the following week...but Regular Deadlands is certainly in the offing, given player reactions.